Eagle Alpha, the Dublin-based social media start-up for market-related information and data, is set to expand. Set up by Emmett Kilduff in 2012, the firm now has operations in New York and London, and has just secured funding worth $1.5 million from a group of current and former senior executives at banks and hedge funds.

Eagle Alpha

The firm uses technology to scan social media content to identify information that can affect the markets – information that can provide valuable insights for brokers and institutions such as hedge funds and investment banks.

Eagle Alpha: When it comes to the markets, information is everything

ValueWalk asked chief executive Emmett Kilduff how the firm planned to differentiate its offering from the likes of Social Market Analytics, Dataminr and Datasift. Like these, Eagle Alpha sells its information products to hedge funds and investment banks, but Kilduff says it differs by relying on people, as well as technology:

“Datasift and GNIP are resellers of the Twitter firehose and are therefore not competitors,’ said Kilduff. ‘In fact, we work with both. The other companies are in a similar space but we do very different things. We are focused on finding insightful themes, trends and data on the web. For example, last week we published a research report on Shadow Banking in China that was based on information from Twitter’s rivals in China: Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo.”

Kilduff pointed out that the new funding would help the company differentiate its offering further:

“The funding will be used to fund further product development and build out our salesforce in New York and London.”

People with knowledge

The company is also planning on taking on 13 new investors, described as senior figures in finance:

“I see this injection of funds as a double vote of confidence. First, it’s a clear backing of the Eagle Alpha team and our ability to deliver previously untapped investment intelligence,’ said Kilduff. ‘And second, it’s a vote of confidence in the potential of the web to continually provide fresh market insights.”

One new investor is known to be Guglielmo Sartori di Borgoricco, the former head of distribution at Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC). He had this to say about Eagle Alpha:

“The largest information resource in the world is the Internet. However, the signal-to-noise ratio is extremely low. Eagle Alpha’s approach of curating the web using a combination of technology and human curation is unique in the Square Mile. Having worked in finance for 25 years, I believe Eagle Alpha has developed a model, which delivers significant competitive advantage to its clients in a way we’ve never seen before.”

A head for investing

Alpha Eagle’s advisory panel already comes loaded with expertise from individuals with experience at Cairn Capital, Cantor, Credit Suisse Group AG (ADR) (NYSE:CS), HSBC Asset Management, Jefferies Group LLC (NYSE:JEF), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Knight Capital, Macquarie, Markit, MergerMarket, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Oaktree Capital Group LLC (NYSE:OAK). So it’s hardly surprising that, since launching. Kilduff has signed up an impressive portfolio of clients from both the buy-side and sell-side, as well as inter-dealer brokers and private bankers.

James MacLachlan, a senior trader at CF Global. explains the benefits he has gleaned from Eagle Alpha’s Social Sonar service:

‘From game-changing CEO opinions to instant reaction around key financial news and company reporting, Social Sonar is an essential addition to the run-of-the-mill industry newswire services and gagged sell-side analysts.’

Planning for growth

The company currently offers three tiers of products: the self-explanatory Free Insights on the market; Global Macro, which trawls the web for relevant content and includes a read-only Twitter feed of 100 tweets a day, and Social Sonar, for more in-depth interaction with Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). Social Sonar has the ability to identify key Twitter users with relevant expertise and points clients to interesting tweets.

However, Mr. Kilduff, 37, who comes from an investment banking background, having worked at both Credit Suisse Group AG (ADR) (NYSE:CS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), says the firm has much more in the pipeline:

“In April we will be launching a curated twitterfeed on US technology, media and telecom stocks. There are 500 million tweets each day – we will publish the best 50 regarding US TMT stocks. In addition, we will be publishing a research report on Weibo ahead of its upcoming IPO in the US.”

Eagle Alpha might only have 16 full-time employees at present, but, given the firm’s new funding and plans for the future, it’s certainly one to keep an eye on over the coming year.